For as long as I can remember, I have been interested in cars – loved cars, really. And the best month for car lovers, when I was young, was October. It still is. October is the month that the new cars for next year hit the showrooms.
When I was a young teenager, before I could drive, we would walk down to what was then known as Auto Row and visit each dealership. It was thrilling and I still remember it today. Then the dealers were all American except for one small dealer, British Motors, that sold Jaguars, MGs, Triumphs, and, I think, Alfa Romeos. Cars like Chevrolet, Plymouth, DeSoto, and Oldsmobile each had their own dealer and we would spend an afternoon looking at all of them. Now, according to Auto Week, there are 340 cars and trucks on the market and no way to walk each dealership. Even more thrilling.
My first actual car getting experience was when I was fourteen. My mother asked my advice on what car to get and I suggested a Buick Century. That was 1954 and the Buick Century was a hotrod with the small Buick body and a big Buick – the awesome Roadmaster – 322 cubic inch V8 that put out 177 raging HP.
Two years later, I got my first car or, more accurately, collection of car parts. A five window deuce. (Technically, a deuce is a 1932 Ford and my car was a Plymouth, but What the hell; it was close enough to call a deuce.) I also acquired, separately – I think - a ford flathead engine with 3 Stromberg 97 carburetors, and a 3 speed Lincoln-Zephyr transmission. Eventually, the parts became a car that looked much like the car below, including the black primer and channeled body, except nowhere as good. My deuce ran, but not really good enough to get anywhere.
Meanwhile, my grandparents were getting old and had stopped driving so I bought their 1948 Pontiac 4 door sedan – what the hell, again, if it had been Italian, it would have been called a quatroporte – and that was the car that first took me backpacking.